Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand
Te Whanganui A Hei.
Te Whanganui-A-Hei is the first reserve established on the Coromandel Peninsula, and in the Department of Conservation’s Waikato Conservancy.
Officially named Te Whanga A Hei: (Cathedral Cove), the reserve was gazetted in 1993. Covering a total of nine square kilometres, Te Whanganui-A-Hei thus became New Zealand’s sixth official marine reserve.
What are Marine Reserves?
For many years people have been protecting sites within the coast and shallow sea for special purposes, like harbours, marine farming, communications cables and dumping sites.
Now, areas are being set aside for the natural regeneration of the marine environment. These will be left unspoilt and unexploited, for education and science, and to provide opportunities for the public to explore and enjoy the undersea world.
Why is this Area Important?
The habitats found between and around Motukorure, Moturoa, Motueka and Mahurangi Islands are complex, diverse and of high quality. The mosaic of reefs and soft sediments support many plant, fish, mollusc and crustacean communities.
All are accessible in sheltered locations providing opportunities for research and education, and other experiences not currently available to tourists, holidaymakers and residents.
Interpretive signs are located at Hahei Beach, Wigmore Stream, Cook’s Beach and Whitianga launching ramps. Those signs have maps showing reserve boundaries, as well as other information about the reserve.
The reserve boundaries are physically marked by large white posts placed on the islands and at each end of the mainland boundary.
If you are unsure of the reserve boundaries please refer to the signs, or seek additional information from the Department of Conservation.
Special for Tangata Whenua.
Te Whanganui A Hei is part of a special area first recognised by Hei, a tohunga (priest) on Te Arawa waka at the time of the great migration to New Zealand, circa 1350AD.
On the Northward voyage from the Bay of Plenty to Hauraki, Hei selected the area around Mercury Bay on which to settle his people, proclaiming ownership of the area by referring to Motueka Island as “Te Kuraetanga-o-taku-Ihu” (“The outward curve of my nose”.)
It is said he made this claim near the present day site of Hahei. Hei’s descendants, as Tangata Whenua, still retain a strong ancestral and spiritual attachment to the site, and continue their role as gardians, or Kaitiaki of the bountiful resources within it.